Getting Back to WFC (Work From Cafe)

The pandemic has been sobering. In many ways it’s made us realise that sometimes what we long for the most is the smallest and simplest of pleasures. Like watching yet another episode of ‘Friends’ with our best bud, eating out with family, dressing up for date night, our trainer’s (much-needed!) pep talk at the gym, conversations with colleagues that would spark big ideas, spontaneous happy hours fixed over slack, or even just savouring a cup of good coffee at our favourite café.

In fact, whether we realise it or not, over the past couple of years, café culture has become an integral part of our lives. Cafés became our go-to when planning a quick brainstorming session, catching up with longtime friends, or even grabbing a quick bite on a rushed day. On easy mornings, we’d pack our bags - laptop, laptop charger, phone charger, earphones, a book - and look forward to a blissful afternoon at the local coffee shop, where the vibe is as pleasant as the coffee.

If you ask us, cafés are on the top of the list of everyday things we miss. Because while you can certainly sip a perfectly delicious cup of specialty coffee at home (ask us!), it rarely mimics the experience of sipping one at a café. There’s no watching-the-world-go-by, no staring into oblivion as we wait for a refill, and no silly conversations overheard.

Needless to say, the prolonged isolation didn’t pause our coffee consumption at all — in fact, if anything, it has taught us how to make our favourite brew just so, right at home. But cafés have always been about more than just coffee. They’re about engaging with our coffee community, where the barista (who knows where we went to school) brings us our cuppa just the way we like it. No sugar, dark and strongly brewed.

The lively chatter and occasional typing on a keyboard blended with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee—all served with a side of people-watching. The café is a place of comfort where mornings extend into afternoons and post-lunch pick me-ups turn into evening rituals. The café is where a table for one is offered with a smile, no questions asked. It allows you to be alone, alongside other people. It seamlessly transitions from your remote working desk, to client meetings, to first dates, or even to gossip marathons.

For a freelancer, it’s a place between home and the office. For the one with first-date nerves, it offers easy conversation fodder. When you don’t want to commit to an entire meal and don’t feel upto potent cocktails, a café is the perfect place. So while the lockdown has continued to spoil us with delicious ARAKU Coffee, we do miss all the other quotidian pleasures a café offers. Working from home definitely has its benefits (breakfast in bed, client meetings in pajamas, quality time with your doggo) but those of us who were accustomed to cranking out to-do lists in cafés, miss these coffee-fueled hubs. Especially the creative folk.

For many years, coffee shops have been an intrinsic to writers’ schedules. From Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald to J.K. Rowling, chunks of famous books have been penned down at cafés.

Paradoxically, the café babble feeds productivity. For many, a blank page and complete silence are sometimes incompatible. Somehow the cafe makes the drudgery of Excel sheets seem less odious. When delicious coffee comes with a playlist of lively conversation and soft tunes, task lists seem less like a chore. With all of us chained to our home offices for nine months, the craving for caffeine in a new space (that isn’t home) is greater than ever.

Here’s hoping the new year brings back the old WFC (work from café) culture. And when it does, you’ll get to savour your favourite ARAKU Coffee at a café. More on that later! Until then, put on a playlist featuring ambient sounds from a cafe (sounds wild? look them up) and continue sipping on your favourite brew at home.